It Sure is a Scientific World 

2001 Ig Nobel Prize Awards

Created to spotlight the dumbest scientific achievements, the 2001 Ig Nobel Award ceremony was held at Harvard University on October 4, 2001. The awards, held yearly since 1991, are co-sponsored by MIT, the Annals of Improbable Research, the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association, the Harvard Computer Society, and the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students. The ten-category Ig Nobel Awards honor those people whose deeds "cannot or should not be reproduced." The prizes were "physically handed to the winners by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel Laureates," at a gala ceremony with 1200 guests in attendance.

Top picks for awards this year:

MEDICINE
Peter Barss of McGill University, for a nutty medical report, "Injuries Due to Falling Coconuts" published in The Journal of Trauma, wherein Barss discusses his findings of Papua New Guinea patients who got knocked on the head by the heavy fruit over a four-year period. According to Barss, coconuts falling from heights of 24-35 meters plow into unsuspecting skulls "at a force exceeding 1 metric ton."

BIOLOGY
Pueblo, Colorado inventor Buck Weimer, for his charcoal-filtered, airtight underwear invention, Under-Ease, that traps farts and keeps them from escape and detection. Weimer, whose wife suffers from Crohn's disease, a form of inflammatory bowel syndrome, says the idea came to him after a large Thanksgiving dinner while in bed with his wife. Her explosions drove him to create a solution to her problem.

PEACE
Viliumas Malinauskus of Lithuania--for creating the barbed-wire amusement park, Stalin World. Said Malinauskus; "(Stalin World) combines the charms of a Disneyland with the worst of the Soviet gulag prison camp."

LITERATURE
England's John Richards, for his efforts to "protect, promote, and defend the differences between plural and possessive usage. Richards is the founder of The Apostrophe Protection Society. Other awards were presented for research into "Glee in Small Groups of Pre-school Children," "Why Shower Curtains Billow Inward," "Rhinotillexomania (nose picking) in India" [See "It Sure Is A Scientific World," Sept. 5], and to an Australian who successfully patented the wheel in 2001.

Past winners include the British Royal Navy for insisting on its sailors yelling "BANG!" instead of using live cannon shells, research into "The Collapse of Toilets in Glasgow," and research into using magnets to levitate sumo wrestlers and frogs. Details of the 2001 awards ceremony and a list of all past winners are posted at http://www.improb.com/ig/ig-top.html.

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